Be careful who you fire as you’re handing over your company, they just might sue you for $105 million. In fact that’s just what former Huffington Post blogger Jonathan Tasini’s asking from AOL and HuffPost in a lawsuit with possible class-action status, claiming he and other bloggers weren’t paid for their work.
Those other bloggers number in the thousands–upwards of 9,000, in fact. Tasini argues that of the $315 million AOL ponied up for HuffPost, he and his blogging peers got nada. How much should they have? The lawsuit pegs the figure at around $105 million and names both HuffPost co-founders Arianna Huffington and Kenneth Lerer.
Tasini–also an activist and twice Congressional candidate–was with HuffPost from late 2005 to February 10, 2011 and says he authored over 200 pieces of content for the site, for which he has yet to be paid.
“This action seeks to vindicate the fundamental principle that the creators of value deserve to be compensated,” reads part of Tasini’s complaint.
“TheHuffingtonPost.com has been unjustly enriched by engaging in and continuing to engage in the practice of generating enormous profits by luring carefully-vetted contributors, with the prospect of ‘exposure’…”
Naturally the Huff Post disagrees, calling what it offered a chance “to connect” and help writers “be seen by as many people as possible,” in a HuffPost statement picked up by Forbes. “It’s the same reason people go on TV shows: to promote their views and ideas. HuffPost bloggers can cross-post their work on other sites, including their own. Aside from our group blog, to which thousands of people from around the world contribute, we operate a journalistic enterprise with hundreds of paid staff editors, writers, and reporters.”
And those complaint bits you read above are Tasini being kind. Here’s what he sounds like with legal decorum removed:
“We are going to make Arianna Huffington a pariah in the progressive community,” Tasini told the press this morning (via Forbes). “No one will blog for her. She’ll never speak. We will picket her home. We’re going to make it clear that, until you do justice here, your life is going to be a living hell.”
Hell hath no fury like an activist scorned, in other words. Shame on Huff Post if they hoodwinked thousands, but perhaps Tasini could take a cue from fellow activist Noam Chomsky here and ratchet down the rhetoric a notch.